Posted in Fantasia 2016, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals

Fantasia 2016 festival in review

Fantasia 2016, total films seen: 25

This year’s lineup of movies was very promising but the ones I looked forward to the most ended up being disappointing or just okay. But there were a couple of surprises that ended up being really great. Overall though, I’d say this was a good but not great year (like last year). I’d say the number of great films this year was less than most of the previous years. My main disappointment was the lack of films that resonated with me emotionally. However, in regards to just pure entertainment, I was satisfied by a few strong entries.

In the crime genre, the top recommended film goes to The Top Secret: Murder in Mind which also has a sci-fi element. I guess there wasn’t much competition in this genre but this was excellent. Three was a very good HK crime thriller. Creepy is maybe more thriller and a bit of horror but it was quite effective and unsettling. The Phantom Detective was a crowd-pleaser. A Violent Prosecutor was more of a comedy and enjoyable.

The best comedy and the wildest screening of this year was easily Too Young to Die! so it got the recommended label. It was also a big surprise for me since I pretty much knew nothing about it when going into the theater. It bested Hentai Kamen 2: The Abnormal Crisis which was good but disappointing compared to its predecessor (which also had one of the wildest Fantasia screenings that I’ve experienced). For those looking for a comedy grounded in reality What a Wonderful Family! is a good bet.

The manga based sequels Assassination Classroom: Graduation and Library Wars: The Last Mission both provided fitting conclusions. The other manga based movies I didn’t catch. There’s just so many of them.

There were barely any choices in animation and martial arts respectively (like 2 or 3 in each only) but Seoul Station (Korean animated zombie film) and Kill Zone 2 (martial arts) both got the recommended label from me for being super entertaining and serving as strong entries in their respective genres. The Bodyguard was a disappointment but its main actor/martial artist shows promise.

In regards to drama and romance, a movie that was close to getting the recommended label was A Bride for Rip Van Winkle which had characters that I grew to really like but it’s also one that I think has hidden details that require a second viewing. If Cats Disappeared from the World was sad and emotional but lacked fully developed characters.

As for serious dramas, Korean films The Bacchus Lady and Fourth Place were both very interesting. They showed social issues with very real characters and didn’t sugarcoat things.

Non-hyperlinked movies mentioned above are likely covered in Mini reviews.

Movies I didn’t watch: Familyhood, As the Gods Will, Terraformars, Chihayafuru, Harmony, Kaijyu Mono, Kiyamachi Daruma, Lowlife Love, Parasyte, Ultraman X the Movie, Skiptrace, Holy Flame of the Martial World, The Priests, Collective Invention, Sori: Voice from the Heart, Train to Busan, The Exclusive: Beat the Devil’s Tattoo, Judge Archer

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Author:

Longtime fan of East Asian films. Former "movie reporter" on the music radio show / podcast "Beats From The East" broadcasted on Concordia University's CJLO 1690AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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